With all our adventures here in China, it is still amazing that we were able to arrange for a night with a host family. For half of the day, the students helped prepare Japanese Curry for the banquet where we would meet our host families. Before I begin, I guess I should revise my last statement by explaining helping as mainly test tasting and explaining that we still don't know why Japanese Curry represents American cuisine. Nevertheless, the curry was good and we got to relax before beginning our trip "home". As we got to the banquet, we met several of the English speaking students from previous meetings and caught up on what we had missed with them. The students and parents also made food for us and we made our way around talking and eating. After the food was gone and the rain had started, I met Kim, my host parent. We had met her several times before and she was responsible for helping us organize our trip in China. We were both excited to meet each other and live together. She told us about her family, especially her son, Roger, her pride as a mother. When we got to her house, she gave us a tour, introduced us to her family, and explained certain paintings they had in the house. One of the paintings was by her husband who painted Peonies and explained the importance of watercolors in Chinese art. He told us that water emphasized the importance of flow in the painting. Kim also explained the paintings by a famous artist that represented traditional Chinese sayings like Race towards the Sun and Here we share a cup of Tea. Through these paintings I noted Chinese hospitality and also some similarities with Western sayings like Reach for the Stars. That night I talked with Steven, Kim's husband, about politics and with Kim about her hopes of setting up an exchange program for her students.
The next day, her husband cooked the most delicious meal I have ever had in China. He cooked sweet n' sour chicken, bar-b-qued pork, chicken wings, two types of eggplant, green beans, shredded pork, and later steamed buns and crab. While eating this meal, I was reaffirmed of the fact that home cooking always is better than eating out.
Later we went shopping, looking at the community, and down local streets to see how everyone lives. Kim told me about her love of ice cream, something we both share, and some of her trips in the United States. I was sorry to leave their house early. We talked about so many differences between Western and Chinese culture as well as our happy experiences in China. Kim's mother cried for us as she explained the sadness of a child being away from their parent which really emphasized how important family is to the Chinese and how blessed we were to be accepted into their home. At the end of the night, Kim drove me back on her mo-ped, officially establishing that I have travelled by every piece of transportation in China.